The Vulnerability of Nuclear Power Plants

At around 3 a.m. on September 7, 2010, 20 illegal immigrants were taken into custody at Calafia State Park in California. The park is located near San Clemente. Sixteen men and four women were arrested. One of the women broke her leg at some point. These illegal immigrants from Mexico did not come in under a fence or over a fence or through a wall or around a gate – they arrived by sea.

Mexico is to the south of the United States. That is in an important fact I ask you to keep in mind for this next part.

Just a little bitty-bit more than four miles south of where these illegal immigrants came into shore on a boat is the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station.

The point I am trying to bring out is that the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station is just a little bitty-bit more than four miles south of the point where these poorly dressed, [possibly] ill-educated, desperate people came ashore by boat. They got onto the beach before being stopped.

Unit 1 is not used as a power generator. It is a spent fuel processing facility. (Spent fuel processing facilities can make plutonium for bombs.) That reactor operated for 25 years, closing permanently in 1992. Nuclear reactors are normally decommissioned after 35 years. Units 2 and 3, combustion engineering pressurized water reactors, continue to operate and generate electricity.

In 2012 the plant will have been in operation 20 years longer than intended.


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